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Gluten Sensitivity May Underlie Many Health Symptoms

Today many people seem to experience disturbing digestive symptoms that don’t appear to be related to anything specific one can put their finger on.  Food choices and activities may be the same and personal habits and products may not have changed.  But still, nagging discomforts persist.

One challenge may be that a person has become sensitive to gluten.  Gluten is in such a wide variety of foods and food products, it becomes difficult to stay away from it.  Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, kamut, triticale, spelt, semolina, graham and white flowers, and oats that provides flours made from these grains with doughiness and elasticity.  A gluten subprotein, gliadin, may be the main culprit interacting with one’s immune system in a negative way.

Signs and symptoms of gluten sensitivity may include food sensitivities, allergies, asthma, malabsorption, improper digestion causing diarrhea, constipation, gaseousness, acid reflex, nausea without vomiting, fatigue, joint pain, mouth ulcers, and bone pain (to name a few) according to Finer Health & Nutrition/Gluten Sensitivity on their website.

Wheat and wheat-like products we understand have been vital staples in our diets.  However, with the need to provide increasing populations with such foods, agricultural practices, in order to increase crop yields, often resort to genetically modifying these crops.  This could be one reason behind a person developing sensitivity to gluten over time from toxicities arising from the modification of naturally wild seed grasses.

For those who suspect or already recognize their gluten sensitivity, intense scrutiny of all food labels becomes a must.  Any food product that has thickeners added most likely contain gluten, such as breads, pastas, pretzels, flour tortillas, desserts, cakes, cookies, pastries.  Soups and broths as well as gravies, sauces, dressings, and beer contain gluten.   Fried foods (flour coatings), imitation fish, lunch meats and hot dogs contain gluten unless clearly labeled gluten free.  Be aware that foods labeled “wheat free” may not be gluten free as they may contain rye or other gluten grains.

Some condiments such as mixed powders may contain gluten.  I was disappointed to learn that hard candy and licorice contain gluten as well as bleu cheese, my favorite!

Safe foods are fruits and vegetables, naturally gluten free.  Manufacturers have become more health savvy providing many gluten free flours and pastas as well as rice blends.  Read labels carefully for these products and keep a food journal to quickly spot any reactions or sensitivities.  Gluten sensitivity can lead to serious autoimmune disorders more difficult to overcome.  If you suspect a gluten sensitivity, undertake an elimination diet removing as much if not all gluten foods for a week or two to see if your symptoms subside.  If so, you are on your way to improving your health.  Check out gluten free websites for shopping lists and many tasty recipes.

Krystle Shapiro owns Touchstone Massage Therapies and Nutrition Plus!  She can be reached at 208/290-6760.

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